Let’s discuss character names.
This has been on my mind because I’m considering eventually changing (among probably many, many other things) Siobhan’s name in my work-in-progress, The Fallen. To be honest, I chose the name Siobhan simply because I like it. I’d like to name my daughter Siobhan one day. But I realize that this could potentially be misleading, since it is an urban fantasy book -at least that’s the genre I would best categorize it as. Someone might think it’s going to incorporate Irish folklore in some way. It doesn’t. On the other hand, I do like the name of Siobhan’s mysterious teaching assistant, Jasper Mars, and it holds some special meaning, as you will find out if you’re following along. 😉
I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for names to symbolize something specific, although I like to do that sometimes. Another one of my own favorite character names from another story is Celeste Lowe; I both like how her first and last name sound together, and she’s an alien, so her first name reflects her otherworldliness. Rather than be a symbol, it is important for a character name to make sense with the setting of the story, time and place, especially if the story relies extra heavily on these elements. For example, if the story takes place in nineteenth century England. Maybe this is quite obvious, but I think it’s important to keep in mind.
Also, I think that characters can have “cool sounding” names even if they’re not especially reflective of anything profound. One of my favorite examples would be J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Ms. Rowling is fantastic at character naming in general, but although a simple name, Harry Potter is just somehow catchy. Its simplicity may be purposeful on her part since Harry is supposed to be an unlikely hero (scrawny kid, brown hair, glasses), but she could have gone with something else equally as simple. John Smith and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Besides being an English explorer, John Smith just doesn’t seem to have the snap to it that Harry Potter does.
Karen Marie Moning, one of my favorite paranormal romance/urban fantasy authors, is also a name-machine. Mackayla Lane. Jericho Barrons (who owns Barrons Books and Baubles). Dani O’Malley. Adam Black. Drustan, Dageus, Christian MacKeltar, you name it. And I can’t forget L. J. Smith: Elena Gilbert, Stefan and Damon Salvatore, Julian, Faye Chamberlain, to name a few. And no matter how you feel about the Twilight saga, Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, and Jacob Black are memorable names. From the world of indie publishing, I always thought Dmitri Maximus from Emily Guido’s Light-Bearer series was a great name.
So, what are your thoughts on character names? How do you come up with your own? (What do you think of mine?) Please share your comments below!